Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Cats - the individualistic feline

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

Money Matters

Life in the Laugh Lane

The Doctor's Consultation: When bleeding can be a real pain in the bottom!

Bleeding from any orifice should not be taken lightly. It is not normal to cough up blood, spit up blood, bleed from the nose or ear canal, or bleed from the anus. It means ‘something’ is wrong. Generally the ‘something’ is minor, but it may be the symptoms of an invading cancer.

This is why the specific cause of any rectal bleeding must be identified so appropriate treatment can be started and the problem corrected. Even though most cases of rectal bleeding are not serious, you should never ignore this warning symptom, no matter how embarrassed you may be about showing your bottom to the doctor!

There are many causes of rectal bleeding. One of the most common is Hemorrhoids. These are dilated blood vessels in the anal or rectal area. Think of them as varicose veins, similar to those you can get in the legs. They can occur on the outside where they are felt as small grapes when wiping, but internally they are generally painless, and you do not know they are there until one bursts and you bleed.

Another cause is a Fistula. This is an abnormal, burrowing channel that usually runs from the rectum to the skin around the anus. While it is usually just a local problem, a fistula can be associated with chronic inflammation in other parts of the intestinal tract such as Crohn’s disease.

Fissures are tears of the anal lining. Nerve endings and blood vessels are exposed so that pain and bleeding may occur with bowel movements.

Diverticulosis (comes from the Latin ‘diverticulum’ which is translated as a wayside inn of ill repute). Pockets or sacs (called diverticulae) project from the bowel wall and occasionally they can bleed. Other conditions such as Proctitis and Colitis can produce bleeding from inflamed ulcerated tissues.

The big worry is Polyps and Cancer, as they do not produce symptoms in the early stages. Polyps are growths in the colon, and when they enlarge, they can bleed. Some polyps can also turn into cancer and the ulceration of the polyp produces bleeding as well.

Rectal Prolapse. This is commoner in older people, who have weakened rectal support tissues. Part of the rectum then can project from the anus and bleed. It can be felt as an abnormal bulging from the rectum when wiping and needs surgery.

With so many probable causes, how do we make the diagnosis? The simple answer is by history and examination, which is not only visual. The old adage is “If you don’t put your finger in it, you will put your foot in it” (also used regarding prostate examinations).

We will need to know if blood drips into the toilet after a bowel movement? Bleeding hemorrhoids may be the problem. The color and frequency of the bleeding are additional considerations. In most cases, the medical history provides diagnostic clues, but never the final answer.

Inspection (visually and digitally) of the anal area will reveal tears and hemorrhoids. The DRE (Digital Rectal Examination) can provide information when there is tenderness or a locally growing tumor inside the rectum.

To look further up the anal canal to check for bleeding, a Sigmoidoscope may be used, but to get even further up inside the colon, a Colonoscope will be required.

Other procedures can include a Barium Enema X-ray where liquid barium is inserted by enema into the rectum. This can highlight abnormal shadows, such as tumors, diverticulae and colitis.

So while the causes may be several, the tre atment for most is not major. However, as I mentioned at the beginning of this week’s article, bleeding, from any orifice, should not be ignored.


Agony Column

Dear Hills,
(Sorry for sounding so ‘familiar’ but that’s the effect you have on most of us readers, Petal)
Though it’s kind of refreshing to read that David (Sat, 24th Dec) hasn’t adopted the, all too familiar, down-trodden, condemned man, jaded mindset of so many Farang-in-Thailand (yet, at least), I have to confess that his opinion seems somewhat naive. Before I continue, I’d like to wish him good luck in all he does and I really hope his future experiences don’t lead him to change his views on Thai people.
For my part, I guess I’m in between somewhere. I’ve had good and bad experiences here (the good out-weighing the bad). I’m neither jaded by’, nor patriotic of’ these people. Like he said, “there’s good and bad everywhere”. I’m not old (36), not big-bellied (though working on it) but, I am bald! (By choice, you understand – something to do with excessive U-turns beneath the sheets.)
David mentioned that the key to living a good life out here, was finding the right woman…. Dear-oh-dear, if one puts so much onus on that, surely one’s mental state could be severely disturbed if the relationship doesn’t work out. Moreover, I believe that one should like being here for much more than ‘a girl/woman’! Sadly, it sounds like David has ‘reacted’ to stories/comments he’s heard, and very obviously has taken it all personally. What I can’t figure out, is where has he experienced such condemnation for Thai girls? Boom-boom bars?? Teacher’s library??? The hotel lobby???? For the way he should really react, is to question these individuals as to where they generally look for their future girlfriend/wife? This can usually explain the haphazard/un-advantageous origins that lead to a certain person’s disappointment/heart-break. David, David, David….. In my experience, those young, good-looking Farang (or otherwise) that seem so ‘Pro-Thai’ at first, usually end up being the most jaded of all. Invest as much as you wish into others but always have a reserve for yourself. Who knows what the future holds, “same as in Europe”.
My last point. “act as you do in your homeland”. I’ve been preaching the opposite for years now. I’d hate to see these people corrupted to the extent that we are. David, this is not Europe! These people are not Europeans and they never will be. The message should read “acquaint yourself with the different customs/culture of other Nations”. I’ve often wondered why heavily-cultured countries don’t have some form of information leaflet for foreigners, on arrival. Just a little intro on dos and don’ts….The mind boggles!
I can’t promise you chocolates, Hills, as I’ve a fondness of them myself, but feel free to ask for my comments on future articles.
Chiang Mai Scooby

Dear Scooby-Doo,
How wonderful it is to be 36 and have the answers to all the world’s ills (not Hills). But how traumatic it must be when people don’t listen, or give a damn, and run headlong into the mire, yet again. I am however also very worried about your tonsorial problem. Perhaps if you got the laundry to use a double shot of softener in the final rinse, that might help take the roughness out of the sheets. Ot perhaps change them more often? I don’t know that I can agree with your final paragraph, Petal. My experiences are that many Europeans forget their Euro-style manners and turn into bellicose boors, and believe that money buys everything in this country. It may buy some (doubtful) companionship, but it certainly doesn’t buy a life’s partner (unless you are having a short life). As far as acquainting themselves by reading leaflets, that’s not necessary. Just keep reading my column!

Dear Hillary,
I have a really terrible problem and it seems to be getting worse every day. When I go outside of my room I keep meeting people wearing t-shirts with Von Dutch on it, in a funny writing style. Then I began to notice that everyone has one these days. Women have handbags with it written on it as well. Everywhere I go it’s Von Dutch. First I don’t know what it means, and second I don’t have one piece of clothes with it written on it. What should I do Hillary? Go and buy one at the Von Dutch store (but I don’t know where that is), buy a copy, or stay indoors until this fad is over?
Von Not-Dutch

Dear Von Not Dutch,
You certainly have got a problem, my Petal. How could you even possibly think of going outside without a Von Dutch T-shirt? Goodness me, I put on my Von Dutch dress, Von Dutch sunglasses, Von Dutch scarf and Von Dutch shoes before going into the lounge room after I have my bath in the morning, let alone going shopping outside the house! In fact, to admit you haven’t got one Von Dutch item of apparel, is almost as bad as telling people that you have leprosy or some other nasty diseases. So please trot down to the copy T-shirt shop and get yourself a Von Dutch straight away. You might be able to trade in last year’s Tommy Tommy Hilfiger on it. (I still think it was very mean of his parents to give him a middle name the same as his first name, but then I have never really understood Americans.)


Camera Class:  Give yourself a theme – and improve on it!

by Harry Flashman

There is so much more to photography than just taking photographs of relatives, loved ones and where you went for your holidays, and if you want to improve your photography, there is no better way than giving yourself a photo project. Simply, an exercise for the mind becomes an exercise in photographic technique.

When you think about it, this is how the professional photojournalists work. National Geographic (or even this newspaper!) tells their photographers to go out and cover the opening of a restaurant, the closing of an airport or a day in the life of the Amazonian frogs. However, in your case, the best thing about your self-directed projects is that you get to choose the subject, so you do not need to go to South America!

Actually, this is one of the reasons Harry Flashman became a professional photographer. I gave myself the task of illustrating a “book” as if I had been given the assignment. As I worked on it, I could see the photographic techniques I had to master, and the “book” became more of a self-teaching exercise for young photographers. In fact it was one shot from that exercise resulted in the first commercial contract. It was the start of a new career, so your own photo project could be the start of your new career.

Of course, you don’t need to be setting out on a new career path, you can do this exercise at any time in your life, and what better time to start than at the start of 2006? So what should you choose as the subject of this project? As they say in Thailand, “Up to you!” However, here are a few ideas. I have a personal one which is a photo-record of the busses in Thailand. Since this country is the ‘Bus capital of the universe’ (my working title), I have been photographing the wonderfully colorful busses. Size becomes the technical difficulty, because it can be difficult to get far enough away from a bus to be able to get it all in the frame, and then you are too far away to see the details. So to record one bus, you need an overall shot, and then close-ups, but to include parts of the bus each time, to show that this art work really was on the side of a bus.

One of my photographic friends, Ernie Kuehnelt, who is more at the retiral end of life than at the beginning so he doesn’t need a new career, came up with his own project a couple of years ago – he is photographing people on motorcycles. You know the sort of things – families of five on one motorbike, little kids hanging onto the rear view mirrors, girls riding side saddle, small fluffy dogs in the carrier in the front, motorcycle taxi riders popping pimples in the rear vision mirror. This project is endless and I’m sure Ernie doesn’t mind if you try to illustrate this one yourself.

After starting his project he realized he was not getting close enough to the action, so decided to use a telephoto lens and see what results he gets from that. He had already found he needed to get a reasonably high vantage point, or the motorcycles got lost in the sea of motor cars. As I said at the beginning of this article, “an exercise for the mind becomes an exercise in photographic technique” and you will soon appreciate this.

An important part of this exercise is to pick a theme that appeals to you, not trying to work out what kind of shots you want to take. So if your great passion in life is Japanese food, then start there and eat your way through your project! Once you have the project, the excitement of actually bringing it to life will spur you on to greater understanding, and incidentally, greater pictures!


Cats - the individualistic feline: Oriental Shorthair and Longhair Cats

We are Siamese if you please

Linda L. Galloway

The Oriental cat was first developed from the Siamese to explore all possibilities of coat color and pattern. Imagine a Siamese wearing head to toe a satin coat of every color and pattern imaginable and you have an Oriental Shorthair (OSH).

When the OSH was accepted for Championship status in 1977, it became one of America’s most popular breeds in the Cat Fanciers’ of America (CFA) registry. Now there are over 300 colors/patterns to choose from, and each color has is special purr-sonality attributes. Solids, or for a sparkling undercoat stir in the silver gene
at the roots or tips, paint splashes of cream and you have a parti-color. If you
like stripes, try tabbies in any of four different patterns: classic, mackerel, spotted, ticked. Torties with a sprinkling of red and cream on a background of seal, blue, chocolate or lilac, create a clown-like appearance and their nature is the equivalent of the “dizzy blond”, as if in the mix-up of colors they can’t make up their minds about how to behave. If Lucille Ball was ever reincarnated as a cat, she would definitely be a “tortie”!

OSHs are a study in sleek design from the tip of the long pointy nose to the end of the long whippy tail. The lines of the angular head flow into large flaring ears, and are complemented by almond shaped green (or sometimes golden) eyes. This elegant cat gracefully glides across the room on tall slender legs. Don’t be fooled by their svelte tubular body. These cats have surprising weight and muscle tone and are nei
ther frail nor fragile.

The Oriental Longhair (OLH) was the next step in a natural progression. Breeders of Balinese and Javanese cats (the longhair versions of the Siamese, see Part 1), who liked the assortment of colors offered by the OSH breed decided to create a longhair version. The first documented litter born in 1983 was bred/owned by Billie Cobden (Houston, Texas). Still a relatively new breed, the OLH was accepted for registration in 1988 and advanced to Championship status in 1995. They are known as Angoras in UK and Mandarins in Europe. These fabulous ermine-coated felines carry the same graceful bodies and silky long coat with plumed tail as their Bali/Javi counterparts (Part 1). They are elegant, svelte cats that are playful, spirited, and loyal well beyond their youth. They eagerly greet you at the door and tell you all about their day. If you’re late, they will scold you and tell you how worried they were that you didn’t call. Hide on top of the refrigerator? Wrong! Curiosity and intelligence combine to give them a means of finding everything and anything. They have been known to open and empty your purse to discover their favorite toy - a pen or a crumpled piece of paper they can chase around the floor. Anything to attract the attention and affection they desperately need. Ignore them and they will droop with despair.

Longhair or shorthair, Orientals are never aloof. They are close to the people they claim as their own and desperately want to live with you. They find their way into every one of your activities: a little nudge while you eat, a close examination of your toothbrush just before you use it, helpful hints on which foods to select from the refrigerator. If you’re a couch potato, they’ll share the warmth of your lap and provide a comforting purr, or nuzzle your chin when you need it most.

They are true Siamese that came back from living abroad in a coat of many colors, patterns, and lengths. OSHs are still abundant, but OLHs are now so rare they are practically an endangered species! Relatively few breeders around the world now work diligently to keep this breed alive and viable. Prospective owners are placed on waiting lists for as long as it takes. These are the breeds that defy what we normally think of as CAT: independent, aloof, solitary. No way! They couldn’t live without you! For more information, contact Linda Galloway by email at [email protected]


Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

by Dr Byte, Citec Asia

Happy New Year everyone. Before I start sharing more Questions and
Answers, several people brought their computers to us for repair and they all shared one common feature. For what ever reason, the Hard Drive had failed. I am sure you will agree that there’s nothing scarier than the clicking sound a hard disk makes when it fails. It’s bad enough if you have recent back-ups, it’s a disaster if you haven’t.

If you haven’t backed up, consider what you’d lose. You’ll lose your email address list and all the saved emails. Your photo collection, all the videos of the kids, personal records, the text of the novel you have half written, all the documents and spreadsheets you have on your computer, songs you’ve downloaded, the family history you’ve been recording. The list goes on.

So, how and what to back up? The simplest option is to back up everything. An alternative is to backup everything in My Documents, E-mail, your Address Book as well as My Favorites. That usually covers most things, as long as you keep all your documents under My Documents and not stores all over the place.

A 20GB hard disk can be backed up to a handful of CDs or DVDs, or an external back-up device. But if you work from a hard disk with a capacity of 100 GB or more it is something quite different.

Short of buying a second hard drive to take care of the risk factor (which is not a bad idea), you will need to determine exactly what you do need to back up. In short, this should be everything that is personal to you and that you can’t do without or replace. This is a choice we individually need to make; what’s vital to me may not be to you.

You can generally avoid backing up programs because original disks are usually available, however, back up all the programs downloaded from the web because they are hard and, in some cases, impossible to locate again.

Consider backing up program set-up files like the Microsoft Word Normal
.dot file and Outlook Rules so that you will be able to return the programs to their usual working order later on. These are on my “rainy day” back-up list, something I’ll do when I get round to it; other things are more urgent but you have to make that decision for yourself.

When choosing how and where to back up, you have many options. For software, you can use the program that comes with Windows XP to back up to an external drive (but not to a DVD or CD). The back-up utility is automatically installed with Windows XP Professional. If you’re using Windows Home edition you can install it by placing your original Windows CD in the drive. Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the \VALUEADD\MSFT \NTBACKUP folder on the CD and double click the file Ntbackup.msi to run the wizard that installs the program.

Then Choose Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup and, when prompted, select “Back up files and settings” and choose a back-up option such as “Everyone’s documents and settings”.

An alternative is to use other software, for example, the inexpensive Zip Backup can back up to CD or DVD using zip format files and, if you’re prepared to organise the files to back up manually, you can use a program capable of burn-ing data DVDs such as Ashampoo Burning Studio 5. You can also use online back-up sites. These have smaller amounts of space but are attractive because you’re backing up to an external location and the information is stored away from your computer. This protects against not only hard-disk failure but also flood, fire and theft.

Some sites charge for the service and others do not. For example, Yahoo Briefcase gives Yahoo members a hefty 30MB of free online storage with an upload limit of 5MB maximum at a time (or 15MB if you purchase extra space). Other sites such as Xdrive, have up to 5GB for a monthly fee of about $15 and it’s possible to upload very large files and entire folders using this service.

To access Yahoo Briefcase, visit au.briefcase .yahoo.com and type your Yahoo ID and password. You can then create folders and upload individual files using a simple web interface. The ideal back-up solution is probably somewhere between DVDs, an external hard drive and an online service.

In the next column, I have a few more Questions and Answers to share with you. Don’t forget to keep your preferred anti-virus and spysweepers up to date. Do a full hard disc scan and sweep at least once a week. Don’t open e-mails with funny attachments if your not expecting them and last but not least, make sure your firewall is on. Dr Byte appears in Chiang Mai Mail every 2 weeks and if you have any questions or suggestions you would like to make, you can contact me at Dr Byte, Chiangmai Mail.


Money Matters:  Early winter is here (Part 2)

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

Last week we looked at the fact that the US government is borrowing over US$ 2 Bn every day, why they’re doing this and why ultimately this isn’t sustainable. Let’s look at this again in more detail to dispel some myths and establish what we actually know and what is merely conjecture.

The amount of government deficit is well in excess of 5% and rapidly approaching 6% of GDP. This sets off many alarm bells since many analysts see 6% as a trigger point at which a financial dislocation (recession, stock market collapse, currency crash) is inevitable. This is supported by Caroline Freund’s Federal Reserve System International Finance Discussion paper #692 published 5 years ago which equated this 6% threshold to the US swallowing 70 – 80% off all world’s savings in order to continue to fund inflows which have now exceeded 2$ billion dollar per day.

Some 4 years ago, Dr. Lawrence Lindsey, a former White House Economic Advisor, warned “I do think it is important that we all keep this in mind: we have had 20 years of expansion - 18 actually, going on 19. And it has been an extraordinary period. But that does not mean that everything is AOK ... it is unlikely that we could forever borrow 4% of GDP from the rest of the world. Or more precisely if you look at trends, we are borrowing increasing amounts from the rest of the world. Imagine going to your banker and saying, ‘We thank you very much for the $280 (billion) you lent us in 1999, and the $400 (billion) you lent us in 2000, and it looks like this year it is going to come in about $520 (billion). We are going to need $650 (billion) in additional cash in ’02, probably $800 (billion) in ’03.’ Getting the picture? This is otherwise known as ‘evergreen’ financing. And it won’t work. At some point, it is going to have to be adjusted.” (Back then it was only 4% but Lindsey could see that the Bush administration policies were determined to keep increasing the borrowing requirement).

This view is supported by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who says: “Below the favourable surface, there are as dangerous and intractable circumstances as I can remember. We are consuming… about six percent more than we are producing. What holds the world together is a massive flow of capital from abroad… it’s what feeds our consumption binge... the United States economy is growing on the savings of the poor… A big adjustment will inevitably become necessary, long before the social security surpluses disappear and the deficit explodes... We are skating on increasingly thin ice.”

The closest economic advisor of Australian Treasurer, Peter Costello, fears that the US is heading for a devastating financial crash which would involve a sharp fall in the US dollar and a bond and equity market sell off.

A dissenting Federal Reserve System International Finance Discussion Paper Number 827 penned by Hilary Croke, Steven B. Kamin and Sylvain Leduc has suggested that such a level of deficit in the US wouldn’t necessarily cause a major dislocation by looking at the working out if current account adjustments in countries such as Ireland, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, New Zealand, Austria, Norway and Spain.

We have produced a critique of this paper which is available upon request and in fact we asked the authors why their study apparently failed to apply any real critical qualitative criteria to the comparators chosen (i.e. why they could present a Greek national debt of 15 years ago as being comparable with that in the US today). If nothing else, we couldn’t understand why the obvious parallel of USA 1929 hadn’t been considered.

On behalf of the joint authors Steve Kamin replied: “Aside from focusing on industrial economies (and thus excluding developing economies), we applied no further criteria to our selection of economies. The reason for this, simply, is that it was not obvious what further criteria should be applied. We focused on episodes since 1980 primarily because of data availability, but also because, arguably, with the increasing integration of international product and financial markets, the more recent experience of adjustment episodes might have more relevance to the future than earlier episodes.”

In other words, they’re guessing, assuming, and working at the level of the immediately obvious. To us, this seems seriously flawed. Armed with this flawed research Alan Greenspan told a European bankers conference in Frankfurt that, “Current account deficits, even large ones, have been defused without significant consequences, (but) we cannot become complacent.”

When you see all this, the question has to be asked about American policy, how on earth can you rely on a Gaelic Greco-Iberian financial model for American and global economic salvation?

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Alan Hall on [email protected]


Life in the Laugh Lane: Let Go

by Scott Jones

Tired of pushing my aged Kawasaki bikes or visiting them in garage intensive care units strewn with their body parts, I bought a newer, common, reliable Honda Super 4 with low mileage: 8522 km. By the time I’d ridden it from Bangkok to Ranong, some 500 miles, the speedometer read 8523. Do the math. It appears my “newer” bike may have 4,261,500 actual kilometers. Hey, it starts, runs and stops. Who cares how long?

The second busiest road in paradise

The dream was a ride to paradise on Koh Phayam. Lonely Planet says: “no
cars or trucks and roads are pleasantly motorcycle-sized.” Unfortunately there’s no ferry and no one knows much about transporting a big bike, though our bungalow owner says, “No problem. We take you. 2,500 baht, round trip.” (Translation: “Stupid Farang. Give me your money. I take you to the moon.”) As the captain is summoned I imagine planks from the shore to the small long-tail and the crowds of people required on both ends of the trip to get the bike on and off, most likely drunken midgets with slippery hands staggering out of a tavern. Mr. Captain arrives and instills no confidence by saying, “It might fall into sea.” We choose to take our chances in town. On the map, the sea looks very calm and the island is only two centimeters off the shore. Unfortunately, the path to our “ferry” can barely be traversed by foot over a greasy, jellyfish-laden platform, then down two meters onto a squid boat, then down another meter to a modern speed boat driven by a prehistoric man. I might as well have ridden the bike off the pier.

The message: Let go of the bike. I leave it with the ticket taker after his police buddies with big, official grins assure me he is a “good man.” When I return, there will probably be a new ticket taker and a new mobile Honda parts store in town advertising “Moving Sale!” Had the bike made it onto the boat, it wouldn’t have been there long and undoubtedly would have killed the crew. Several times during the ride, the passengers are suspended above the boat and the boat above the sea before crashing down into leftover tsunamis. Koh Phayam’s “motorcycle-sized roads” are littered with random sand dunes, sleeping dog speed bumps and pot holes large enough to be tourist attractions with bungalows built around them. The “road” to our resort degenerates into a jungle trail built by cave men sometime after the invention of the sled but before the invention of the wheel.

This brings to mind a previous bike/pier experience. After docking in the Virgin Islands, we rented bicycles for a snorkeling trip to the beach. The moment the bikes were loaded with gear, I turned to wave goodbye to my uncle as a gust of wind blew my bike off the pier into the water, two meters down. Being a dull-witted, quick thinker, I immediately plunged in and grabbed the bike with one hand and my pack with the other. Soaked clothes, tennis shoes and no hands free do not make an efficient life guard. As the bike and I slowly sank into the six meter harbor with the sun fading in the distance and my life passing in front of my eyes, five vital words flashed
in my mind: Let go of the bike.

Some folks snorkel with brilliant tropical fish and sea creatures. I skin dive for fins, masks, shirts, sandals and passports half-submerged on the floor of a murky
harbor composed of decomposing sewage dumped by docked sailboats. I form a support group for folks with similar traumatic experiences called the Diving Underwater for Missing Bicycles Association. No one joins, perhaps because of its acronym: DUMB ASS.